Looking from the outside in, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region still conjures up numerous business stereotypes – from entirely paper-based payment workflows to over-dependence on oil as a driver of economic growth. On the ground, however, these stereotypes are being swiftly overturned as governmental visions for a digital and sustainable future are embraced by citizens and corporates alike.
Forward-thinking MENA treasury functions are using the momentum behind government development plans, such as the United Arab Emirates’ Vision 2021 and Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030, to build next generation treasury operations. As discussed at a recent Citi roundtable, thanks to emerging technologies, innovative partnerships, and sharing of best practices, many treasury departments in MENA are embarking on accelerated digital innovation journeys.
As MENA countries re-orientate themselves for sustainable economic growth, corporates are also shifting their business models – putting the region centre-stage in their global plans. David Aldred, TTS Sales Head for Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey (MENAPT) Citi, explains: “While centralisation is not a new theme in the region, since the UAE has long been a regional treasury centre for many corporates across the Middle East and broader Africa region, we are noticing a shift in the dynamics. MENA is now becoming a global hub, not just a regional one. For example, many domestic corporates are expanding out from the region, using their UAE headquarters as their global growth platform.”